So Which Is Gayer, “Ghostbusters” or “A League of Their Own”?

Whether or not Sony knew just how much the Ghostbusters reboot was going be championed as a movie about queer romance and friendship, we have certainly taken it there. We do this often as a community – taking seemingly generic family films and bending them into something we can recognize – because if the best we’re going to get in terms of mainstream representation is subtext, y’all better believe we’re running with it! And if people are confused as to how we’re able to weave in these queer backstories and theories with such conviction, the answer is simple: we’ve had decades of practice.

We cut our teeth on movies like Young Man and A Horn, All About Eve, and Fried Green Tomatoes, but never had we been put to work quite like we were with A League of Their Own. Admittedly, the undertones in this film starring Geena Davis, Orange is the New Black‘s Lori Petty, Rosie O’Donnell, and Madonna about the formation of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that was to replace Major League Baseball while the men were away in WWII was lost on me as a child. Thankfully here in America, TBS has been airing it on loop four months out of every year since it came out in 1992, so I’ve gotten to watch the film’s nuances unfold in real time.

Now that Ghostbusters has proven itself worthy of this esteemed tradition almost 25 years after we initiated A League of Their Own, it begs the question: which is gayer?


Plot

Ghostbusters: Four friends set out to save New York City from an impending ghost invasion.

A League of Their Own: Women from all over the country come together to create the nation’s first professional women’s baseball league.

I mean.

Victor: A League of Their Own


Stars

Ghostbusters: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones

A League of Their Own: Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna

Again, this one is a bit unfair. Kate McKinnon certainly pulls her weight, but Geena Davis has been many a queer woman’s root, Lori Petty was Tank Girl, Rosie is Rosie, and Madonna is Madonna.

Victor: A League of Their Own


Characters

Ghostbusters:

Abby (Melissa) – Abby seems tentatively gay in a way where she doesn’t actively date women but she does sign up for OKCupid a couple of times a year for a week to browse women’s profiles before deleting her account without messaging anyone.

Erin (Kristen) – The way Erin swoons over their assistant, Kevin, is sort of classic straight girl, but because Kevin is the human equivalent of a golden retriever, that doubles back as gay.

Holtzmann (Kate) – Is Holtzmann.

Patty (Leslie) – Quite frankly Patty seems down for whatever.

A League of Their Own:

Dottie (Geena) – Even though Dottie’s married we know she’s gay because her husband, Bob/Bill Pullman, has the least sexually threatening presence on earth and that’s 101 Don’t Know I’m Gay Yet. (Also I know right now many of you are in a Kate McKinnon fog and it’s going to be hard to not immediately have your minds made up on this one, but I will tell you this: Geena Davis as Dottie in A League of Their Own was Holtzmann before there was Holtzmann.)

Kit (Lori) – Kit’s has an active disinterest in men for most of the film, which makes her end of the movie boyfriend feel hilariously tacked on.

Doris (Rosie) – Doris is your classic butch who even gets her own beard!

Mae (Madonna) – Mae is clearly bisexual.

With the exception of Mae, Dottie and the gang feel more anchored in their tropes of denial. In a face off between Mae and Holtzma[passes out].

Victor: A League of Their Own


Outfits

Ghostbusters: Jumpsuits

Screen shot 2016-08-02 at 10.04.30 AM

A League of Their Own: Skirted uniforms

Screen shot 2016-08-02 at 10.00.50 AM

This one is not as obvious at it may seem. Sure, there is a queer element to women in pants since there was a time when women weren’t allowed to wear them in public, but ultimately for me the deciding factor here is the accessories. High socks and ball caps are no match for goggles, belts, backpacks, finger gloves, straps on straps, and guns.

Victor: Ghostbusters


Affiliations

Ghostbusters: A paranormal fight squad

A League of Their Own: The Rockford Peaches, a team in a women’s baseball league

We were on equal footing until peaches came into play. They were neither from Georgia or Florida, and symbolic imagery is real.

Victor: A League of Their Own


Nicknames

Ghostbusters: Holtzmann, aka “Holtzy”

A League of Their Own: “All the Way” Mae Mordabito, Betty “Betty Spaghetti” Horn & Alice “Skeeter” Gaspers

Coming from years of personal experience playing sports: calling someone by their last name is way gayer than coming up with a new nickname all together.

Victor: Ghostbusters


Interpersonal Dynamics

Ghostbusters: There is definitely tension between Abby and Erin for most of the film that reads like Erin is internally pleading for Abby not to mention their probably romantic past. Abby knows this about Erin and shifts that energy she’s being forced to suppress at Holtzmann. Patty and Holtzmann operate for most of the movie in that sweet spot of a crush where even doing terrible things together is exciting.

A League of Their Own: Doris is in love with Mae and irrationally considers them to be dating even though deep down she knows Mae just thinks of her as a friend. On the surface it could seem like Mae and Dottie never warm up to each other because Mae thinks Dottie is stuck up, but really it’s because Mae knows Dottie is the one person who could top her and that is too much to handle. Dottie avoids hanging out with the team during down time because subconsciously she knows what happens when you play with fire (you get turned).

This one’s close but I’m going active over passive here.

Victor: Ghostbusters


What They’re Fighting

Ghostbusters: I’m A Nice Guy/Sexism

A League of Their Own: Themselves/Sexism

Victor: Ghostbusters


Dialogue

Ghostbusters:

Holtzmann: “Forgot about my new toys.”

Holtzmann: [to Erin (me)] “Come here often?”

Erin: “Proton guns are all well and good, but sometimes you need the Swiss Army.”

A League of Their Own:

Dottie: “No, Bob and I are driving home. To Oregon.”

Ellen Sue: “Batter up, hear that call. The time has come for one and all… to play ball.”

Radio Announcer: “When our boys come home from war, what kind of girls will they be coming home to?”

Victor: A League of Their Own


Davis vs. McKinnon Standout Moments

Ghostbusters:

A League of Their Own:

giphy
Victor: Ghostbusters


Featuring Men

Ghostbusters: Chris Hemsworth, Bill Murray

A League of Their Own: Tom Hanks, Jon Lovitz

Bill Murray is dressed like gay antique dealer in Ghostbusters, but Tom Hanks has a distinctly lesbian feel to him. Plus Jon Lovitz is literally recruiting girls for “the team.”

Victor: A League of Their Own


Cameos

Ghostbusters: Sigourney Weaver as a hot scientist who seems to be into younger women.

A League of Their Own: Garry Marshall (rip) as a rich white guy who loves candy bars and watching ladies play ball.

Victor: Ghostbusters


Closing Credits

Ghostbusters: Chris Helmsworth dancing?

A League of Their Own: MEMBERS OF THE ORIGINAL ROCKFORD PEACHES WHO ARE ALL LIKE 90 AT THIS POINT PLAYING A GAME OF SOFTBALL WHILE MADONNA’S ‘THIS USED TO BE MY PLAYGROUND’ PLAYS IN THE BACKGROUND.

Victor: A League of Their Own


Final Tally

Ghostbusters: 6

A League of Their Own: 7

In the words of the announcer from A League of Their Own, “Take me home momma and put me to bed. I have seen enough to know I have seen too much.” What an inspiring performance by both teams. One for the books! Remember: we are all winners here. And Ghostbuster fans, there’s always a chance to reclaim the title with Ghostbusters 2.

Los Angeles based writer. Let's keep it clean out there!

Erin has written 207 articles for us.

52 Comments

    • I intentially left out marla bc she is too pure for this breakdown. but yes to anne! i wanted to keep it somewhat even numbers tho so it wasnt like, an entire baseball team again 4 ppl. do you still think anne gets people asking her about her red hat or do you think thats passed?

      • She also played gay in The Taking of Deborah Logan and I am completely convinced she’s one of us. I can’t think of a single role where’s she’s even seemed fully straight, plus she’s involved with a lot of Pride events. I think we get to claim her at this point.

  1. Did y’all see the NY Times article?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/04/movies/kate-mckinnon-on-ghostbusters-snl-and-hillary-clinton.html?_r=0

    Been thinking about the joy of articles like these, and how this community (online queer editorials) didn’t really exist during A League of their Own.

    And I was thinking like now, “of course we’re gonna get cannon queer Holtzmann.” It will just organically come out, and Autostraddle will write some amazing article that I will bookmark (like this one).

    And she’s point blank asked- “Do you think it’s significant that moviegoers who don’t see themselves represented onscreen (queer) are identifying with her?” after saying she did’t have opinions about Holtzmann being gay.

    (Now putting other stuff aside, whether or not she was asked not to say, or whether she genuinely feels that answer best befits the character, etc.)

    Are we at the point where we don’t always need the political move of characters being identified, if romantic relationships are not part of the plot? Or do we still need it, or now more than ever?

    • That is such a disappointing response. But also makes it clearer how much she’s been silenced now (or has had to silence herself?) Her interviews with Julie Goldman and Bridget McManus were so candid once upon a time. I hope in a post SNL life she will be again.

      • Agree totally. The fact that she immediately shut down the question about Holtzmann’s sexuality speaks volumes about what she’s been told not to discuss.

        Very disappointing and slightly concerning. If the studio is so concerned about people reading her as anything other than straight, are they going to stifle Kate’s gloriously queer portrayal of Holtz in the next film?

        Maybe we should start calculating odds on who will play her boyfriend in the sequel. What does everyone think? Socially incompetent scientist/accountant? Or maybe, secret husband. Place your bets.

        • I mean they haven’t pushed her back in to the point of someone like Luke Evans. Most profiles of her include a mention of her being the first lesbian cast member as long as that isn’t part of a quote from her. Kumail referred to her as a gay woman while they hosted the independent spirit awards. But it’s like she’s not allowed to talk about it herself or be “too” gay or something.

    • JA i think this is a great question! I don’t think its necessary (or even a good idea) to shoehorn in like “this person is gay btw, here is their partner) but i do think it’s a lot easier to let a character operate organically. holtzmann comes off as the type to make a one off comment about how hot a woman was, but instead she’s made to give these long, weird stares. just seems like more work than anything!

    • To answer your last question: no. I saw Ghostbusters with one of my straight progressive sisters (I have three of those) and after, over beer and fried pickles, discussed the merits of the film. I told her that the producer winknodded to Holtzmann being queer and the studio was not about the gay. “But she was flirting with Hemsworth!” was her reply. So… no. We’re not there yet.

  2. Oh my gosh, just reading about the League of Their Own credits in all-caps made me emotional. You’re right. Putting aside the heavy Holtzmann fog, the clear winner is League of Their Own. But maybe Ghostbusters will be the baby queers’ League of Their Own. And that’s beautiful.

  3. I never got the appeal of A League of Their Own I have never rematched that movie it and the only reason I saw it in the first place was because of Madonna.
    Most of the planet doesn’t care/follow baseball so I’m gonna go with Ghostbusters on this one.

  4. Are you kidding with the nicknames, ump? It is an anachronistic comparison. ALOTO should have won this contest 8-5.

    “Boy, did she smack that one on the kisser. No wonder they call her ‘All the Way’ Mae.”

  5. This cover picture makes me think of another movie, “Boys on the Side”.
    There, Mary Stuart Masterson’s character sits in a diner with a young and beat up Drew Barrymore, and they talk about Whoopi Goldberg’s character who is a Lesbian and they talk about her being a Lesbian.
    Barrymore’s character has a quote that goes like this,”I don’t know much about them, but all Lesbians love UPS uniforms.”
    Well, point made.
    Anyway, this post perfectly illustrates how wordy and awkward commenting was before youtube.
    And, also, gifs.

  6. I LOVE both movies 🙂 I’m giving ALOTO the win for sure! The reasons are similar to the above, but with emphasis on time. ALOTO was put out when making a queer-centric movie was near suicide.

    That said I ADORE the new GhostBusters. I rarely even stream sequels … they are rarely even the equal. But, this one is SOOOOoooooo BAdAss, even compared to the original…. total win for the ladies !!

  7. I don’t know how my ALOTO radar didn’t ping immediately when this article first posted but better late than never, which is to say: YES ALL OF THIS YES

    re: Kit’s tacked-on boyfriend, you mean the rando dude she meets at the Sudsbucket? Or just that they showed her as having married and had kids/grandkids at the very end? I mean, either way I agree it felt wrong, but I don’t recall an actual boyfriend character?

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.